Hospitals not promoting healthy foods22nd October 2008
Consumer organisation Which? has criticised the meals served up in many hospital canteens.
It highlights that the food often has a high fat and salt content and that only four out of 21 UK hospitals surveyed had a healthy option on their menus.
Nikki Ratcliff from Which? said: "The situation at the moment is farcical. Although we did find some examples of good practice, most hospitals we visited really need to raise their game."
Over the course of a year, the NHS serves 300 million meals to its 1.5 million staff as well as visitors and outpatients in its canteens and restaurants.
The Which? research noted several hospitals did have a vegetarian option, though it was often cheese based with high fat levels.
Overall, 67% of meals sampled had too much fat according to Food Standards Agency guidelines while 86% had too much salt.
The consumer body also quizzed 1500 of its members who had eaten in a hospital canteen in the previous 12 months. Just under half said the food was "excellent" or "good", but 20% were unhappy with the options available.
The British Dietetic Association agreed that improvements were necessary but pointed out that hospitals often use private catering contracts, making it difficult to impose NHS standards on its suppliers.
However, the Hospital Caterers' Association was concerned the survey seemed to be based on a "limited analysis" of the full range of dishes available at the hospitals in question.
Chairman Neil Watson-Jones said hospitals were continuing to improve menus with extra healthier options.
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Title: Hospitals not promoting healthy foods
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 8864
Date Added: 22nd Oct 2008